As renovations progress inside, new owner Saxton Sharad stands outside the front entrance of the Sunset Hill House with his wife, Karen and their nine-month-old son Marston. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
April 03, 2019SUGAR HILL — "Wanting to be part of the community is a big thing for us," says Saxton Sharad, the new owner of Sunset Hill House.
Joined by his wife Karen and their nine-month-old son, Marston, Sharad recently discussed his January purchase of Sugar Hill's iconic inn, the extensive facility renovations currently underway and his vision for the future of this historic property.
As the sound of hammers and power tools echo into the front parlor and employees approach with project questions, Sharad says he has scheduled the grand reopening for May 31, approximately six weeks away. This goal sounds like no easy feat, considering the young family lives in Long Island and are only able to come to New Hampshire every two weeks.
"I wish we could be here more, but I have a day job," said Sharad.
"The physical distance has not been easy," he continued.
Sharad explained that he and his wife had been aggressively looking for a hospitality property to call their own for more than two years before they came across the listing for The Inn at Sunset Hill.
"This pushes my limit of distance, and at first we were not one hundred percent interested because it was too far," he explained.
"But then we came here and saw it. That changed everything," said Sharad.
His wife Karen quickly agreed, saying "All it took was one sunset through those picture windows."
Sharad added, "When I am up here, I feel like I am in a Hallmark movie. This is where I want my son to play and grow."
With more than a decade of experience in hotel operations and a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, Sharad certainly has the pedigree to achieve his goals for this property.
"I am a hotel person. My parents met in the industry; my dad is a chef; my sister is also in the industry. It's in my DNA. I can't escape it," he said.
Sharad is a busy man. The former hotel manager of Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas is now the Senior Vice President of hotelAVE, President and Founder of Post Script Hospitality and currently working with Graduate Hotels, the fastest growing hotel company in the country.
"I've spent the last ten years of my life staying in hotels; 250 nights of the year," he said.
"This is my passion; this is what I do for fun. While other people are sleeping, I will be up at 3 a.m. looking at different types of rubber duckies to give to the children who come to stay," he explained.
Both Sharad and his wife believe there are two simple ingredients for creating a memorable experience; you must care and you must have excellent attention to detail.
When asked what has inspired him most in his travels, Sharad said, "I am generally against brands. It is often the 'mom and pops' businesses when you find the people who genuinely care about the details."
All 28 of the rooms at Sunset Hill House are currently under renovation. New furniture, new technology, new floors, the addition of new suites, and a revision of the public spaces; no stone has been left unturned by the young couple.
Sharad explains his philosophy, saying "Everything in a room should be there for a reason, and everything should tell a story."
He continued, "You will learn something new every time you come to Sunset Hill House."
The couple has decided to bring the property's name back to what it once was; The Sunset Hill House. Sharad's wife, Karen has taken the lead on the new design aesthetic for the property. Under her guidance, the traditional dining room transforms into more of a lounging experience with leather couches and soft furnishings.
Executive Chef Corey Lombardo's new menu features small plates designed to fit anyone's schedule, as opposed to the hard delineation of lunch or dinner. The new event center will hold 250 guests comfortably, and the historic nine-hole golf course will continue to operate.
Sharad summarizes his plans to honor the legacy of the Sunset Hill House, stating "Sugar Hill deserves someone who wants to be the steward of such a rich history."
The public is invited to an upcoming estate sale scheduled for the weekend of April 13-14 at the Sunset Hill House.